You have probably noticed that there is a current bandwagon effect across the body of Christ about planting missional churches and starting collaborative networks. It is transcending many denominational and non-denominational borders. The call to “plant a church” is now accompanied by a similar call to “start/join a network.” It is great to see churches being planted and people connecting with other leaders and organizations beyond their local church but it can have a downside.
Some have identified as many as 10 types of networks across the Christian landscape to join or start. Our Salt & Light/C2C family would be classified as a network which is “A family of churches.” This is probably a good label because we don’t see ourselves primarily as a network but a family. The identity God has given us is “God’s family together on God’s mission.”
The downside of the idea of networks and networking is that it can work against the idea of family. College freshmen are lectured about networking on their first day of class. Young professionals’ race to another boring party so they can be seen and shake hands with someone who might be able to help them land that great job/deal or help them get ahead just like the business books and podcasts have instructed.
Traditional networking tends to use people and relationships for personal or business success. In the church networking can also be about connecting with and using people or organizations for personal ministry or church success. This is empire building instead of Kingdom advancement. Why, because this mentality is in contrast to what Jesus taught as His way to life and greatness…”If you want to be great, be a servant” (Luke 22:25-27, Matthew 20:25-28). The summation of Jesus’ teachings about how to walk together is that we lay down our lives for the good of others instead of using others for our own personal good.
So what are we? Are we a family, a network? What are our distinctives? The leader of our Salt & Light family, Steve Thomas, delivered an important message about the history of our family. In it, he did a wonderful job of describing the things God has revealed to us about how we walk together as a greater family. To listen click the link below.